They were brothers in attack last season, but Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri find themselves hoping to achieve the same aim with rival Premier League clubs this time around.
Indeed, Arnautovic’s West Ham are now six points clear of the drop zone but defeat to Shaqiri’s Stoke City on Monday night will reduce that buffer to just four, dragging them back into the relegation scrap and giving the Potters hope of escaping it at the final hour.
Both players have very much ascended to talismanic status within their respective teams this season. Arnautovic’s departure from the Bet365 Stadium last summer inadvertently created a chasm of quality that the Switzerland international has done his best to fill with his strongest Premier League season to date in scoring terms. His former team-mate, meanwhile, has increasingly embraced the role of becoming West Ham’s most enigmatic talent under the guidance of David Moyes.
Of course, those roles have translated slightly differently; Shaqiri has become Stoke’s resident No.10 after spending previous campaigns out wide, whereas Arnautovic has moved from the opposite flank in the Potters’ starting XI last season to the potent tip of West Ham’s attack this term.
That’s why Shaqiri has created more than twice as many chances per match this season as the 69-cap Austrian, whereas Arnautovic has completed more dribbles per match than the former Bayern Munich midfielder – who Transfermarkt value at £16.2million.
Both though, have emerged as the standard bearers, taking the game to the opposition almost singlehandedly at times by either scoring or assisting 13 goals apiece in the top flight. Shaqiri has played a hand in 43% of Stoke’s league goals this season – Arnautovic has been involved in 33% of West Ham’s.
Perhaps the resulting question, upon the backdrop of Monday night’s relegation clash at the London Stadium, is therefore obvious; which player would you prefer to have as your team’s talisman for the crunch relegation clash?
Let us know by voting below…